Ljubljana and Lake Bled – An Insider’s Guide
To the north of Croatia sits the scenic country of Slovenia. The country is known for its beautiful landscapes including over 10,000 registered caves, and over half of the country’s surface is covered in dense, verdant forests. If that doesn’t already sound amazing enough, there are over 500 castles in Slovenia, one of which is the only remaining in-tact cave castle in the world. While there is a lot to admire about this country, there are two spectacular places that are an absolute must when visiting the country: Ljubljana and Lake Bled.
One of the most iconic symbols that you will see around the capital city of Ljubljana is a dragon. The dragon came to be a staple in Ljubljana as it is a symbolic protector of the city. There are dragon statues adorning one of the city’s main bridges, little stuffed dragons and keychains at the markets, and even chocolates wrapped in foil decorated with an image of a dragon.
Another important feature of Ljubljana that is hard to miss is the castle that sits atop a hill overlooking the city. Ljubljana castle houses a Slovenian history museum, a puppet museum, and many other historical rooms. You can walk the castle walls for a view of the castle grounds from higher up.
There is also a lookout tower that allows for a complete view of the city and the mountains from high above the ground. To get to the castle from the city, you can either take one of the many hiking paths that lead up the hill to the structure, or you can take a funicular up and down the hill for just a few euros each way.
A large open air market can be found in the city center every day of the week except for Sunday. There are a few parts to the market, each offering something different. The main open air market is full of fresh fruits and vegetables and flowers. There are also a lot of booths with oils and jams and other locally made goods.
Along the side street near the river are many tables with baked goods, from breads to cookies and everything in between. The final section of the market is partially covered, where many local vendors sell handmade items such as candles and carved trinkets. If you take the stairs to the section below this part of the market, you can also find a seafood market, where you can often see people on boats, catching fresh fish.
Aside from those three main attractions, there is so much to enjoy in the city. There are restaurants of every kind with plenty of outdoor seating. Many of the restaurants are located along the river and are decorated with string lights that illuminate the riverside walkways. The cafes are wonderful for enjoying a coffee or one of the country’s famous pastries, such as a strudel or a cream cake. The city is also a great center point for taking transportation to explore other parts of the country.
There are many accessible routes between Ljubljana and Lake Bled. The most affordable option is to take the bus between the two locations, which departs 25 times each day and takes about 60 to 80 minutes. The next affordable option is the train, which departs ten times each day and takes 45 to 60 minutes each way. There is also the option to take a taxi or rent a car if you prefer to travel at your own pace, and the drive only takes about 45 minutes. Once you have made it to Lake Bled, there are two main attractions. One attraction is the famous Bled Lake and island, while the other is Bled Castle, which overlooks the lake.
Lake Bled is absolutely mesmerizing, with pristine blue water surrounded by mountains and forests. There are a few villas and houses on the lake’s shoreline, but the government restricted building before the landscape became overwhelmed with homes and resorts. Because of this, the lake and its surroundings retain much of its natural beauty.
When visiting Lake Bled, you can take a traditional wooden boat, also known as a pletna, to the island in the middle of the lake. The boat has no motor in order to keep the water calm and clean, and it is rowed by a local. The boats cost about 12 euro round trip, and the journey across the lake is quite surreal as you approach the island. You then have a while before the boat departs to explore the island. On the island you can walk the hiking path, sit on one of the wooden docks, enjoy the cafe, and tour the church.
After taking a stroll around the island, you can take the boat back to the shore and either walk or take a bus up to Bled Castle. Once you arrive at the castle grounds, there is a short but steep walk up to the castle itself. There is a lot to see at the castle, from a traditional print shop with live demos, to a museum about the castle’s history. There are also places to find food and drinks, but the best part of the castle is the views. Bled Castle is located on top of a cliff that overlooks Lake Bled, allowing for panoramic views of the water below and mountains in every direction.
If Slovenia has grabbed your attention, you may want to consider one of our signature tours such as the Croatia and Slovenia Custom Vacation. You can also add Slovenia and any of the country’s remarkable sights to your own custom tour. Whenever you are ready to begin planning your dream vacation, contact us and we will put together the trip of a lifetime!